Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


CHAPTER   V

THE RISE OF THE UNIVERSITIES

i. THE PASSING OF THE DARK AGES

THE impulse given to education by the work of Charles, though
losing its force as time went on, sufficed to maintain the con-
tinuity of learning in Europe till the greater revival of the Eleventh
and Twelfth Centuries. And though we hear at various times in
the intervening period the old lamentations about the decline of
letters, the lapses were never so extensive nor so complete as they
had been in the centuries before Charles. There always remained
monasteries and cathedrals where learning was cherished, and the
losses which took place through the failure of some centres were
constantly being made good by fresh efforts in others. Thus, in
the Tenth Century, when Otto the Great attempted to recreate
the Empire of his famous ancestor, the educational ideals of
Charles were once more revived by the scholarly enthusiasm of
Otto's brother, Bruno. Bruno, we are told, " restored the long-
ruined fabric of the seven liberal arts." As much a scholar as a
statesman, he brought back the Palace School to its former
strength by seeking for the best teachers and collecting the finest
classical texts that could be got in Italy for their use; and he
spread learning by encouraging the higher clergy to become
leaders of education. Under his inspiration, some of the monas-
teries, too, notably those like Reichenau and St. Gall, which had
been founded by Irish missionaries, rose to new heights of
scholarly achievement.

But in spite of all this, education was undoubtedly in a pre-
carious state in these centuries. The greater part'of Europe was
in an unsettled condition. Charles's Empire, under the feeble rule
of his successors, soon fell apart into the three separate nations of
France, Germany and Italy, and political disorders were every-
where rampant. To add to the internal confusion, invading hosts
threatened Christian Europe from three sides. From the Eighth
to the Eleventh Centuries the Norsemen laid waste all the lands
on the Western sea-board, especially Ireland, Britain and Northern